India vs England:Alastair Cook’s team of 2012 remains “one of the best England sides” and although the batch of 2021 under Joe Root is getting there, it is still at a different stage of its journey, feels star batsman Jos Buttler.
In 2012, Cook’s men beat a formidable Indian side, including the likes of Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Sachin Tendulkar, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, 2-1 in its own den in a four-Test series.
Incidentally, current skipper Root made his debut in the final Test of that series in Nagpur.
“Joe made his debut on that tour and has fond memories and learnings on what made us successful. That was one of the best England teams that we have ever had, quite amazing players,” Buttler said during the virtual media interaction on Saturday.
“This side is in a little bit of a different stage in terms of journey, but certainly, getting towards that point. It’s an exciting time to take up such a challenge against the best team in the world in their home conditions,” added Buttler.
The 2012 series will always be remembered for Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar’s bowling along with Kevin Pietersen’s epic 186 in Mumbai.
In England’s seamer-friendly conditions, a first-innings score of 350 is considered to be a good total, but Buttler said this team, with some young players in its ranks, would need to develop an understanding that a good score in India could well go beyond 600.
“It is about adapting to conditions and playing accordingly. There are times when the ball seams and swings in England. The big first-innings score can be 300 for example and if you play in India, we play on a fantastic batting wicket (for) the first two days, a good score would be 600-650,” he said.
“So, I think it is the realisation and understanding as a batsman and as the batting team and having the hunger to go on and score big runs,” he added.
Buttler feels that everyone in the team should follow the template Root set in Sri Lanka, where he showed how to build a big innings.
“Joe Root is a great example of doing that for us in Sri Lanka, with a double hundred and a 180. He just showed us that you have to make the most of conditions and score big runs,” he said.
Buttler remembers how India overpowered their good first-innings score in Chennai during the 2016 series.
“When we played here in Chennai, four-five years ago, we scored 470 and India scored 700 something with Karun Nair scoring 300. So, it is a great education of what is big first- innings run in India and having the mindset and application to go and do that.”
India is now a formidable force in Test cricket and Buttler, in jest, said given a choice he would neither face its first team nor the depleted side that beat Australia in Brisbane.
“Obviously, the Australian series really showed world cricket the amazing strength and depth in Indian cricket.
“To go and win that series in Australia, when you are missing Virat (Kohli) after the first Test and having so many injuries, just shows there is fantastic strength and depth, competition in Indian cricket.
“A lot of cricketers, a lot of them (brought up) from the IPL, so (not) wanting to face either team really, but I know there will be no complacency from the Indian side.
“Virat would be coming back, had some time away from Test matches and he will be hungry to lead and play well, so it is going to be a great challenge.”
Root’s game plan against the spinners could go a long way in determining how well England fight in the upcoming series.
“Yeah, Joe was in fantastic form in Sri Lanka, he has always had a brilliant game for playing spin bowling. He is one of the best exponents of the sweep shot and he picks length brilliantly which is obviously is a big strength,” said Buttler.
The best part about Root’s game is his ability to rotate strike.
“He has so many options to score. He scores quickly against them and manages to rotate strike and he did that fantastically well in Sri Lanka and one of the biggest things was his hunger to bat for long period of time.
“He showed great application, both mentally, tactically and physically ready to bat for so long, and back that up in the two Test matches. He is great form and that is a great place for him to be at the start of the year and the team, to watch him and learn from him,” he said.
As a wicketkeeper too, Buttler feels that in India, one is always in the game with the pitch slowly deteriorating over five days.
“Very different conditions to keep wickets form what we are used to. Keeping is a challenge in the manner the pitch will change and deteriorate over the five days.
“There will be less carry for seam bowlers than we are used to in England or like in southern hemisphere in South Africa and Australia.
“So you are standing closer to the stumps, quick and reactive chances will be there and then challenge of standing up to the spinners, and pitch starts taking turn later on in the game.
“Having said that, it’s a great place to keep wickets as you feel that you are always in the game,” he concluded.